Three young women and a giant in a house filled with stolen goods. Reinhard was so looking forward to a calm day of relaxation, though he could hardly complain about being of use.
The young blonde girl was shaking the now unconscious body of the one called ‘Natsuki Subaru’. What an odd name. What an odd thing for a commoner to do, acting so brave to save a stranger and so gentle. Reinhard would very much have liked to talk with this strange woman.
A slight ruffle from the rubble left behind when he attempted to obliterate the bowel-hunter, and Reinhard snapped to attention. His temporary blade having evaporated due to overexertion, he watched for the first move, then as the woman in black, Elsa Granhiert, dashed forth from her hiding place and charged at Emilia-sama, Reinhard quickly stepped in her way and grabbed hold of the killer’s notorious blade.
Elsa hissed and let go of it as she jumped away, onto the collapsed ceiling left behind by Reinhard’s entrance.
“Someday, I will slice open the bowels of everyone in this room. Until then, take good care of them!” she announced, before leaping away into the night.
Reinhard could have pursued her, but at this time—
He dropped the killer’s blade and turned to Emilia-sama while descending to one knee. Etiquette had to be observed, and not a flaw was he willing, or indeed able to allow.
“My failure to take appropriate action earlier today has left you in grave danger and a victim of undue anxiety, not to mention the grievous harm to your companion, Emilia-sama. I shall accept any punishment for this inadequacy.”
He took his blade from his hip, the blade infinitely unfit to be drawn against the likes of the assassin from earlier, and placed it before the radiant candidate before him, the ultimate prostration and apology of a knight.
“Why must the two of you be like this?” Reinhard could hear Emilia-sama’s displeasure in her voice as he continued to bow, head held low. “At least she didn’t apologize.”
“I must beg your pardon, Emilia-sama, but which of them do you refer to?” Reinhard asked, seeking to better understand the depths of his failure, his head remaining low.
“Subaru. The girl you met me with, who I just healed!” Emilia said, pouting. “She inserted herself into my search, offering up her own metia to resolve the situation, as if it was her responsibility.”
Reinhard paused to contemplate for a moment.
“Emilia-sama, as a knight—”
“I don’t care that your duty is to help people! Your duty isn’t to be perfect! You came and helped us, throwing yourself in danger, and somehow saved the lives of everyone in here! I simply don’t know how you could try and take responsibility for the suffering that occurred in the process. And at least look at the person who is talking to you!”
Reinhard raised his head, and was greeted by Emilia-sama’s blushing face, with her cheeks blown out, her expression locked into a cute sort of anger.
Narrowing her eyes, Emilia-sama continued: “As such, the only words I have for you, in the name of myself, and I trust the two who can no longer speak for themselves, are ‘thank you’. — There will be no punishment, and if that is unacceptable, then try to do your best from now on!”
“Understood. I am grateful for your gentle words.”
Reinhard bowed deeper than before, then stood up.
Even looking down at the girl, as he now had to, being that he was far taller than her, Reinhard couldn’t shake the sense of majesty that she exuded. Perhaps it was a sign of his own narrow-mindedness, at the very least it confirmed that she truly was one of the ‘Chosen’.
“You are also dressed rather lightly today.” Emilia-sama noted.
Of course, while his sword was by his side as was necessary for his duty, Reinhard was in fact far underdressed for his proper position as a Knight, wearing dark clothes he felt appropriate for today’s relaxation.
“The truth is, I am off duty today, and as such my uniform and armor are at the castle. My sword is the only item of knighthood with me.” he explained, while placing his sword back by his hip.
“And yet, you came to our rescue twice, and still felt the need to apologize.” Emilia-sama complained, giving him another pout.
“May I ask what brought you here?” Reinhard began. “I recall you were looking to meet someone, was it either of these two?” he asked, gesturing to the young girl, and the sleeping giant she was hunched over.
“Yes. The girl had taken something of mine, and we came to ask for it back. That’s why Subaru was going to offer up her metia, to trade for it back.” Emilia-sama explained. “Oh, also, I just want it back, so please do not arrest her, or do anything else you people do at times like these.”
“As a knight, thievery is not something I can overlook— However, as it is my day off, and the one wronged wishes not to make a complaint—”
“I appreciate it, but when you put it like that, it just sounds like lying. It wasn’t a crime that should be punished. Simple as. Please do not interfere further.”
Reinhard straightened himself out, feeling only the slightest bit of discomfort at having to bend the rules.
“Oh! The metia!” Emilia-sama exclaimed, hurrying to the door, and beginning to dig around in the dirt outside.
Looking down, Reinhard gazed at the killer’s black blade for a moment, before picking it up and sliding it into his pocket. It was better to take it than let her retrieve it and continue its foul legacy unbefitting such craftsmanship.
Reinhard walked towards it, but stopped before the unconscious young woman, examining her injuries and brushing her hair to the side. For someone saying such crude and foolish things as she had earlier, she had acted admirably here and had played no small part in saving Emilia-sama’s life. If only Reinhard was more diligent or fortunate in his search for Granhiert, perhaps she wouldn’t have lost her arm.
“You’re right, I shouldn’t mess with her metia.” Reinhard heard Emilia-sama declare in the doorway.
While Emilia-sama told him that no punishment or recompense was in order, he still felt that perhaps an act of charity was in order.
“If I may ask, please close the wounds on the severed arm as well.” Reinhard said, wiping the blood from Natsuki Subaru’s face, before standing up and walking over to the other two present.
“I wished to congratulate you, and apologize.” Reinhard said gently, crouching down next to the sad young girl. He immediately noticed that she was expending no tears, yet her grief over the giant’s injuries were obvious.
“I don’t need—” she began, but then went quiet for a short time. “Thank you?”
“There is nothing to thank me for. When I arrived, I told you to keep the young woman over there awake, even though it would have been in your best interest to flee. And yet you stayed. What you’ve done was a noble thing. The only fault was with me in asking such a thing of a stranger, and one so young.”
“But if it was the right thing— The half-elf is right, you are a weirdo.”
Reinhard couldn’t help but smile at the honesty.
He glanced at the giant laying on his back besides them. His chest wounds healed admirably, as was to be expected of Emilia-sama. His gaze wandered to the giant’s face. Reinhard’s brow furrowed.
“Here, I collected her things, what I could find at least. Some fine scissors, and the metia.” Emilia-sama declared, drawing Reinhard’s attention.
She was holding a small black and orange bag of some kind, composed of material similar to what Natsuki Subaru was wearing. Emilia-sama gently placed the bag next to the unconscious body, then with likely a great deal of effort, given that Reinhard’s previous actions had drained the air of mana, began closing the wound on the girl’s arm.
“If I may, what exactly have you taken, that the girl would be willing to give up a metia to retrieve?” Reinhard asked, turning to the young girl beside him.
“She wasn’t even going to get it. She was going to give it up just so her friend wouldn’t have to fight us.” the young girl said, with a small shake of disbelief in her voice. “Why would someone do that?”
“From what I heard from Emilia-sama, they were actually just fresh acquaintances.” Reinhard noted, furrowing his brow further. “So why indeed.”
“Reinhard, I asked that you do not interfere.”
“I’m terribly sorry, I had no intention of interfering, my curiosity simply got the better of me.” Reinhard said as he stood up to perform a proper bow, but Emilia-sama continued before he could begin.
“I forgive you, as long as you don’t ask for a punishment.”
Reinhard’s back remained straight.
“So, hey. Are you hurt?” Emilia-sama asked, crouching down on the other side of the little girl.
“No, thanks to old man Rom. And that girl… Is she, is she going to be one armed for the rest of her life because of me?”
“Emilia-sama, I realize you said no recompense is in order, but—”
“That’s why you wanted me to heal the arm.”
“See, that’s the kind of responsibility that I like.” Emilia-sama proclaimed with a warm smile, leaving Reinrhard very confused.
“What was that?” the girl asked.
“Reinhard here is going to try and find someone to fix the girl’s arm. I believe I’ve heard of a gifted healer among the knights.”
The girl turned her attention back to the giant, before quietly muttering: “He better.”
“This old man is your family?” Emilia-sama asked gently.
“Well, not really. We aren’t related, but he always took care of me, so he’s like a grandpa.”
“He seems like a good, caring man. He will be fine once he sleeps off his injuries.”
As much as she had a tendency to act against Reinhard’s instincts, it filled him with a sense of gladness to see the young candidate so uniquely positioned to both hate the world and consider herself above, to show such kindness to the lowliest of people, even when they wronged her. She clearly possessed a truly magnanimous soul.
The young girl seemed to stiffen up, then signed.
“As for the thing I stole. I decided I should give it back. And not because of the scary guy looming over there, it’s just since you healed my grandpa. I don’t want to owe anyone a favour. Take better care of your things from now on.”
Reinhard never really considered himself to be the ‘looming’ kind of guy.
“I didn’t expect you to scold me of all things.”
“Well, the only reason I could take it, was because you didn’t watch out for it enough, so it’s really your fault. Don’t act as if I had done anything to be sorry for.”
Reinhard was more than aware of the situation in the capital. As much as the girls’ words went against his nature as a knight, he accepted them as a part of her short, tragic life.
His responsibilities dictated that such things shouldn’t be overlooked, however, what other option did a girl like her have, with no family but an old giant in the slums to speak of, if she wanted herself fed?
The girl began digging around inside her vest, until finally she pulled out a small item.
A familiar light flashed before Reinhard’s eyes, and his body stiffened. He searched deep amongst his countless memories for one—
And he found it.
He grabbed the girl’s wrist, which was still holding the small, triangular object, a dragon insignia, with a gem glowing with white light in the center, and the holy dragon emblem engraved in it with gold.
“Hey, let go, that hurts!”
Felt attempted to push Reinhard’s hand off of her wrist with her other hand, but Reinhard’s grip showed no sign of letting up.
“What is—” Reinhard uttered with quivering lips.
“Reinhard, please, the girl was going to accept the metia, so she clearly didn’t know the insignia’s true value! She is blameless in this crime! Just please let her go! I, the one it was taken from do not wish to charge her, and she’s right, it was my fault for allowing it to be stolen, so—”
The young silver-haired woman showed once more her wondrous magnanimity, however, it had no bearing on the situation.
“Emilia-sama, that is not what concerns me at this moment.”
Looking, searching in the young girl’s eyes, Reinhard saw his reflection, his hair turning practically invisible, matching her iris. Her expression, in this moment when fear, anger or even hate would be most justified, shifting into one of unease instead.
“What is your name, your real name?” Reinhard demanded, his knightly courteousness falling to shambles by the sheer gravity of what was transpiring before him.
“Just Felt? Your family name? Do you have one? Your age?”
“No, I don’t have anything like a family name, I’m an orphan! I— I think I’m about 15, now let go of me!” her momentary unease shifted back to anger.
“Emilia-sama, I’m afraid I cannot grant your wish. I shall be taking charge of this girl.”
“If this is because she stole—”
“As grave a crime as it was, it is paltry compared to the sin it would be to overlook what is unfolding before me.”
Emilia-sama’s expression was one of incomprehension, but in this instance, it couldn’t be helped, and so Reinhard accepted it. After all, she must have been quite used to this extraordinary sight.
Reinhard turned to Felt.
“I will now take you into my custody, where I promise you will enjoy the utmost safety. However, I regret to say I cannot allow you the choice to say no.”
“I’d like to see you try! I’ll cut your arm off if that’s what it takes for you to let g—”
The girl’s speech was interrupted as her knees suddenly gave in, and even her arms drooped, her body rapidly going limp.
“Scr— Screw you—!” she spat defiantly, before losing consciousness.
Reinhard gently grabbed the girl, and took her under his arm.
“That wasn’t knightly in the slightest, you could have caused permanent damage to her gate.”
“I’ve had to deal with this since childhood, so in an odd sort of fortune, I know how to control it. I will do my utmost to ensure her safety and well being., Of this, make no mistake, Emilia-sama.”
Brushing the young girl’s hair to the side, Reinhard contemplated her fine features and skin by moonlight. Surely, with a change of clothes and the grime of the lower city washed off her, she’d shine brightly.
“Will you just leave then? Just like that? What about Subaru?” Emilia-sama asked.
“I’m afraid I cannot—”
“You’re abducting this poor girl, and you’re even going to break the one promise you made her?”
Reinhard’s mouth hung open, as he gazed upon the young silver sorceress. Her eyes betrayed that behind her previous words were a depth of thoughts and pain that Reinhard couldn’t hope to grasp. This too, he had to accept.
Stepping over to the unconscious body of the black haired woman, Reihard grabbed the bag recently repacked by Emilia-sama and pulled it onto one arm, before lifting the girl’s body over his shoulder and awkwardly grabbing her dismembered arm.
Turning around, he looked up at the night sky with the moon gently drifting above the capital, the unconscious girl’s charcoal hair fluttering at the bottom of his vision.
“I hope you do not come to regret getting yourself entangled in all of this Natsuki Subaru.” he whispered. “This might be the last night either of us can enjoy a moment of peace under a full moon.”
Reinhard’s whisper reached no one but the moon looking down on him.